Evaluation of a pilot bridging program to enable Australian dental therapists to treat adult patients Academic Article uri icon


  • This study evaluated a pilot educational bridging program designed to provide dental therapists in Australia with the appropriate knowledge and skills required to enable them to translate their current clinical scope of practice to adult patients. Ten dental therapists completed a bridging program consisting of forty-two hours of didactic content, fourteen hours of clinical observation, forty-two hours of clinical practicum under direct supervision, and 105 hours of clinical experience with supervision by mentoring dentists. Process and impact evaluation was undertaken at various stages of the program by participants and supervising dentists. Self-reported confidence and knowledge for dental therapists had increased at the completion of the course. Supervising dentists reported high levels of knowledge for dental therapists after completing the course and said that the course adequately prepared the dental therapists to translate their current clinical scope of practice to treat adult patients. Eight of the ten participants successfully completed the assessment at the completion of the course and were permitted by the Dental Practice Board of Victoria to extend their clinical scope of practice to adult patients aged twenty-six years of age or more. The dental therapists thought that the educational model was relevant in developing their clinical skills. The evaluation indicates that this model is an effective method of extending the scope of practice for dental therapists and has important implications in enhancing the flexibility of the dental team.

publication date

  • 2011